The Religion of the Samurai HTML version
Buddhism is geographically divided into two schools[FN#1]--the Southern, the older and
simpler, and the Northern, the later and more developed faith. The former, based mainly
on the Pali texts[FN#2] is known as Hinayana[FN#3] (small vehicle), or the inferior
doctrine; while the latter, based on the various Sanskrit texts, is known as Mahayana
(large vehicle), or superior doctrine. The chief tenets of the Southern School are so well
known to occidental scholars that they almost always mean the Southern School by the
word Buddhism. But with regard to the Northern School very little is known to the West,
owing to the fact that most of its original texts were lost, and that the teachings based on
these texts are written in Chinese, or Tibetan, or Japanese languages unfamiliar to non-
[FN#1] The Southern School has its adherents in Ceylon, Burma, Siam, Anan, etc.; while
the Northern School is found in Nepal, China, Japan, Tibet, etc.
[FN#2] They chiefly consist of the Four Nikayas: (1) Digha Nikaya (Dirghagamas,
translated into Chinese by Buddhaya?as, A.D. 412-413); (2) Majjhima Nikaya
(Madhyamagamas, translated into Chinese by Gautama Sanghadeva, A.D. 397-398); (3)
Sanyutta Nikaya (Samyuktagamas, translated into Chinese by Gunabhadra, of the earlier
Sung dynasty, A.D. 420 479); (4) Anguttara Nikaya (Ekottaragamas, translated into
Chinese by Dharmanandi, A.D. 384-385). Out of these Hinayana books, the English
translation of twenty-three suttas by Rhys Davids exist in 'Sacred Books of Buddhist,'
vols. ii.-iii., and of seven suttas by the same author in 'Sacred Books of the East,' vol. xi.
[FN#3] The Southern Buddhists never call their faith Hinayana, the name being an
invention of later Buddhists, who call their doctrine Mahayana in contradistinction to the
earlier form of Buddhism. We have to notice that the word Hinayana frequently occurs in
Mahayana books, while it does not in Hinayana books.
[FN#4] A catalogue of the Buddhist Canon, K'-yuen-luh, gives the titles of 897
Mahayana sutras, yet the most important books often quoted by Northern Buddhist
teachers amount to little more than twenty. There exist the English translation of Larger
Sukhavati-vyuha-sutra, Smaller Sukhavati-vyuha-sutra, Vajracchedika-sutra, Larger
Prajna-paramita-hradya-sutra, Smaller Prajna-paramita-hrdaya-sutra, by Max M?ller, and
Amitayur-dhyana-sutra, by J. Takakusu, in 'Sacred Books of the East,' vol. xlix. An
English translation of Saddharma-pundarika-sutra, by Kern, is given in 'Sacred Books of
the East,' Vol. xxi. Compare these books with 'Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism,' by D.
It is hardly justifiable to cover the whole system of Buddhism with a single epithet[FN#5]
'pessimistic' or 'nihilistic,' because Buddhism, having been adopted by savage tribes as
well as civilized nations, by quiet, enervated people as well as by warlike, sturdy hordes,
during some twenty-five hundred years, has developed itself into beliefs widely divergent